- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible 2016 presidential contender, opened up his second term in office by calling on Washington lawmakers to take a lesson in good governance from the states — and, more particularly, his own administration.

Speaking at his inauguration in Madison’s Capitol Rotunda, Mr. Walker declared: “We get things done here in the Badger State.”

“We’ve been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and lowered their tax burden as well,” he said. “We’ve shown why the founders of this great nation looked to the states — and not the federal government — as the source of hope for this exceptional country. We will not let them down.”

The 47-year-old is viewed as the kind of candidate who could shake up the GOP nomination fight, and he has been open about how his presidential aspirations are likely directly tied to the record he compiles in the governor’s mansion.

“Since I last stood at this podium, our state has become more free and prosperous,” Mr. Walker said. “We took the power away from big government special interests and returned it to you, the hard-working taxpayers.”

Mr. Walker won national attention by pushing through legislation that curbed collective bargaining rights for most public employees in the state. In 2012 he became the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall election, fending off an effort push by the unions. His victory in the November election marked his third win in four years.

Democrats say Mr. Walker is more interested in running for president than adopting the sorts of policies needed to boost job growth and get the state’s fiscal house in order.

Scott Walker was ushered into office in 2010 on a message of job creation and fiscal responsibility, but four years later Wisconsin is trailing our neighbors in the Midwest on job creation and faces massive budget deficits thanks to Walker’s fiscally irresponsible decisions and policies,” the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said in a press release.

Mr. Walker is running in the middle of the pack in the latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls, but he is in the back of the pack in neighboring Iowa, which traditionally kicks off the nomination race with its caucuses.

As a result, GOP observers say that Mr. Walker is battle-tested and checks off a lot of the boxes on the conservative wish list as a pro-life proponent who opposes the K-12 education standards, known as Common Core. He also has signed a concealed weapons bill into law.

Analysts also say he could help put Wisconsin in the column for Republicans, who have not won the state in a presidential race since the 1984 election.

Mr. Walker, though, has refused to say when he will make a decision on whether he will seek the party’s nomination.

He faces challenges at home, where he hopes to deliver on his campaign promise of lowering taxes, but also must plug a $2.2 billion state budget deficit.

Next month he is expected to submit his budget proposal to the legislature, where Republicans added to their state Senate and Assembly majorities in the November election.

On Monday Mr. Walker pledged to strengthen the state’s transportation system, expand Internet access and make sure that every kid has the chance to receive a quality education.

“For many, like my sons and me, it is in a traditional public school,” he said. “For others, it may be in a charter, a private, a virtual or even a home-school environment. Regardless, we will empower families to make the choice that is right for their sons and daughters.”

Mr. Walker also vowed to streamline state agencies, reduce the overall size and scope of the government and “continue to weed out waste, fraud and abuse.”

“Budgets will be set based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay and not on the government’s ability to spend,” Mr. Walker said.

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